posted by Amy on Aug 2

There’s a book called The Artist’s Way. In it, the author prescribes certain practices that she says will unleash creativity and increase creative output. The cornerstone is what she calls Morning Pages. You write for the first thirty minutes after you wake up. You write longhand, with no editing or rereading. When you’re done you put them away. You don’t show them to anybody. You don’t even reread them yourself for at least six weeks, if at all.

I took a class about the book in 2007, and I began to do the Morning Pages. I haven’t written any novels or screen plays yet, but I do think they have a profound positive effect on my mental life. They help me clear out the clutter in my head. If I put thoughts down on paper I can get them out of my way. I greet the rest of the day with more enthusiasm, and I do more of the things I really like to do and really find fulfilling.

For me, Morning Pages are different from journaling. For some reason, in journals, I edit myself. In the past I actually used journaling to try to talk myself into feeling or thinking what I thought I should feel or think. There were off-limits topics, too, things I just refused to say or people I refused to write about. With Morning Pages I tell the truth. Until I started doing them I had no idea how dishonest I was with myself. The anonymity and spontaneity of the Morning Pages process frees me. I can say what I really think, and be done with it. Somehow it unlocks my true feelings and passions. The things I really love and hate emerge from the cloud of “correct” self talk.

I quit doing Morning Pages in 2009. This week I started writing them again. It takes a page or more to start saying nontrivial things. But then thoughts begin bubbling up, sometimes faster than I can get them transcribed. It’s just a half hour at the beginning of the day, but somehow it changes everything. I’m less likely to fritter away hours on the internet. I’m more likely to read something I’ve been meaning to get around to reading, or go for a walk, or write a letter. I feel more connected with my own life.

I have a sense that there’s something buried deep inside me, trying to get out. It frightens me. I don’t want to face it. It’s not what you might think about a person in my situation. I’m not scared of dying. I’m not worried about the future. But I want someone to understand me, to know my stories, my deepest secrets, and say, “I see you. I know you. I honor you.” Or maybe that’s backwards. Maybe I just want to convince someone that it’s safe to be real with me. And I’m the first person who needs to be convinced.


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